The National League East is shaping up to be one of baseball’s most top-heavy divisions in 2017 as the odds indicate the Nationals and Mets are the only teams that should be taken seriously in the division. Washington is favored at -140, but the Mets aren’t far behind at +160, then there’s a significant drop-off with Miami, Atlanta and Philadelphia bringing up the rear.
2016 featured another disappointing playoff exit for the Washington Nationals as they’re a team that just can’t get over the hump. They’ve won the NL East in three of the past five seasons, but came out on the losing end in the NLDS each time. They were bitten by the injury bug when Stephen Strasburg’s season was derailed by an elbow injury — something that’s becoming the norm in DC as he’s had four trips to the DL in the past two seasons. Growing list of Strasburg injuries aside, the team retooled in a few areas during the offseason, perhaps overpaying for center-fielder Adam Eaton in a trade and adding catcher Matt Wieters through free agency. Their issues are clear, but Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer will have them at or near the top of the division all season long.
Almost everything that could have gone wrong for the Mets in 2016 did, but they still found themselves 12 games above .500 to close out the season. After a horrible first few months, Matt Harvey’s season came to a screeching halt due to something called thoracic outlet syndrome which required season-ending surgery. More fuel was dumped on the fire when in September, in the thick of the playoff hunt, Jacob deGrom’s season came to an end due to an elbow injury. The two pitchers appear ready to start the season healthy, and along with Noah Syndergaard, make up the most dynamic pitching trio on any MLB roster. It’s a cliché, but for the Mets more than any other team in baseball, it’s all about staying healthy in 2017.
The Marlins took on a much different look following the untimely death of electric pitcher Jose Fernandez and that’s something that’s difficult to rebound from. This team is filled with some serious talent with the likes of the often-injured Giancarlo Stanton and speed demon Dee Gordon, but a simple glance at their starting rotation is all the evidence you need to prove they’re not worth a bet to win the division. With Wei-Yin Chen and Edinson Volquez at the top of their rotation, bettors should expect lots of high totals and that’s about it.
If the Mets possess baseball’s most dynamic pitching trio, then the Braves have baseball’s most debilitated duo thanks to the offseason acquisitions of 43-year-old Bartolo Colon and 42-year-old R.A. Dickey. With that cruel insult out of the way, it’s obvious that Atlanta isn’t ready to compete with baseball’s big boys, but they’re headed in the right direction. Their farm system is filled with potential stud pitchers and former first overall draft pick Dansby Swanson will be in the mix for rookie of the year this season. Your expectations for the 2017 Braves should be low, but the future is bright.
It took a while, but the Phillies finally embraced a rebuilding strategy and as a result they’ve had four consecutive losing seasons and that trend will continue this season. There’s some above-average talent on the roster, but anyone who plays fantasy baseball will confirm that this is one of baseball’s shallowest rosters. The best thing Philadelphia can hope for this season is a fourth-place finish.
|New York Mets||+160|
Odds as of March 1 at Bovada
The Washington Nationals hold a six-game lead over the pack in the National League East at the All-Star Break. With that lead, the Nats have been pegged as overwhelming favorites to win the NL East for the third time in five seasons.
Washington’s offense has been fairly middling this season, as the club ranks 19th in batting average and 13th in runs. That being said, their pitching and fielding has been more than good enough to carry the team. The Nationals rank first in the MLB in ERA and fielding percentage. As long as their starting rotation remains healthy, it will be hard to make up ground in this division.
The New York Mets and Miami Marlins have mirror records entering the All-Star Break with both clubs going 47-41 through the first half.
The Mets’ offense has been downright terrible this season, as they are ranked in the bottom third in every major batting category. However, their rotation – which ranks third in ERA and fifth in shutouts – has put the team on their back.
The Marlins could surprise many if the team is able to start cashing in runs. The Marlins have the second-best batting average in the majors but are 21st in runs. If Miami can start plating runners after getting them on base, then they could be a real threat to go on a run.
The Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves are pretty much not even worth mentioning at this point. The Phillies are 12 games back while the Braves are 22.5 games back and are looking for the worst home record ever.
|New York Mets||+400|
Odds as of July 12 at Bovada
The National League East has seen some surprisingly strong play from the Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies, but it still appears to be a two-team race between the Washington Nationals and the New York Mets.
The Nats are a -125 favorite to claim the NL East title by season’s end with the Mets close behind at +120 per Bovada. Both of these teams have made it this far based largely on their elite pitching.
The Nationals are second in the MLB in combined ERA while allowing the third-lowest batting average in baseball. Three Washington starters – Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark and Joe Ross – have all posted sub-2.70 ERAs through the first two months of the season.
New York’s pitchers are third in the MLB in ERA and – though they have allowed more hits than the Nats – they still have limitless potential in their rotation. If Matt Harvey is able to play to his full ability it will be hard to imagine anyone having a better lineup of pitchers in the playoffs.
Both the Marlins and Phillies have been surprisingly solid so far this season. Though their record is almost certainly boosted by playing the god-awful Atlanta Braves so much.
|New York Mets||+120|
Odds as of June 1 at Bovada
It’s early, but it seems that the National League East is going to be a two-team race this season. The Washington Nationals and the New York Mets have started the season hot and have quickly separated themselves from the rest of the division.
The Mets are a slight -110 favorite with the Nationals coming in at +100 to win the NL East at BetOnline after the first month of play. The two teams have yet to meet one another this season with their first series set to go down at Citi Field from May 17 to 19.
The Nationals and Mets have excelled this season thanks to their pitching staffs that rank first and fourth respectively in collective ERA. Washington’s rotation features Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Max Scherzer who has yet to pitch to his full abilities this year. The Mets’ rotation is pretty ridiculous and has only seen Jacob deGrom start three times through the first month due to the birth of his son.
Though the season is still young, the Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins seem to be on the outside looking in in the NL East. And let’s do ourselves a favor and not mention anything about the Atlanta Braves.
|New York Mets||-110|
Odds as of May 2 at BetOnline
After running away with the National League East and reaching the World Series last season, the New York Mets seem poised to be one of the top teams in the NL this year. However, the Washington Nationals, a lot of peoples’ trendy pick to win the World Series last season, still sit close behind the Mets waiting to knock them off the NL East throne.
Bovada has opened the Mets as the odds-on favorite to win the NL East (-110) after claiming the division title by seven games last season. The Nationals are not far behind at +110 as books, like pretty much everyone else, has deemed this division a two-team race.
The Mets did not rock the boat this offseason, instead opting to keep their nucleus of players largely the same as last year. The team resigned Yoenis Cespedes and his bat to a three-year contract while trading for Neil Walker to replace the departed Daniel Murphy. Make no mistake though; the Mets are a team built around pitching. The starting rotation will likely feature five pitchers all under the age of 28 with Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard posting a sub-3.30 ERA last season. If things go the Mets’ way, this is a starting rotation that could rival the Braves rotation of the 90’s when they had Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.
The Nationals had a mass exodus of players this past offseason with Jordan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, Yunel Escobar, Denard Span, Drew Storen and Doug Fister out of the nations capital. The Nats did a solid job filling many of the holes left by these departures with Ben Revere likely the new leadoff hitter and Daniel Murphy filling a run-producing role. Despite losing some arms in the rotation, Washington stills sports Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez as their top three.
If there is one team in the NL East that can be defined as boom-or-bust it would be the Miami Marlins. The team suffered through injury problems last season that robbed them of $325 million man Giancarlo Stanton and top pitcher Jose Fernandez. However, this team sports the second youngest roster in the majors and features several young players that could make the jump to All-Star levels of play this season. On the flip side, the team’s youth and inexperience could hinder them and result in another year of mediocrity. It will likely be up to newly signed manager Don Mattingly to bring the kids along.
The Atlanta Braves are not going to be competing this year barring a miracle (full disclosure, I am a Braves fan personally). The team is looking towards competing when they get into their new stadium after this season and have largely already accepted the rebuilding label this year. Atlanta scored the fewest runs in MLB last season while posting the fourth worst team ERA. Don’t expect much from the Braves except some wins over the Phillies.
In all honesty, I was not able to name more than two players in the Phillies starting lineup without looking them up. The pitchers had the second worst ERA in MLB last season, only behind the Jugs machines of Colorado. Philadelphia does have a good farm system, thanks in large to trading aging assests like Cole Hamels, which could see several promising players make their MLB debut this season. Unless these players make major strides, the Phillies are destined to be one of the worst teams in baseball again.
|New York Mets||-110|
Odds as of February 23 at Bovada
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